I always find Remembrance Sunday very moving, and this year it is likely to be even more poignant.
No doubt you know that this month we’ll be marking 100 years since the guns stopped firing at the end of the First World War. I can’t imagine the relief that people felt in 1918 – after four gruelling years of conflict in unspeakable conditions – that the war was finally over.
Those images of brave young soldiers, surviving for months in mud-filled trenches and dreading the command to go over the top, are difficult to take in.
I also can’t imagine how it felt to be the person back home hearing that a loved one had died on the front.
Every year, we talk about the fact that our past generations sacrificed their lives to guarantee our freedom, and I never tire of hearing that.
Survivors from that era are often reluctant to talk about those sacrifices, but I can only admire their guts and fortitude.
We’ll be remembering them on Sunday, November 11, at St Mary’s Church, Alverstoke, during our special Remembrance Day service between 10.30am and 11.30am. In front of the war memorial, we’ll stand in silence together for those two minutes – precisely 100 years to the minute since the end of that horrific conflict.
Of course, there have been many conflicts since the two world wars, and wars are still being raged across the globe now.
Reminding ourselves of the horror of war should, I think, prompt us to strive even harder for peace between different nations or people groups.
I always think that starts with us as individuals.
As we strive to understand each other better, to understand why other people have different opinions, traditions and behaviours, it helps us to strive for reconciliation in all that we do.
I pray that the annual reminder of the sacrifices that others have experienced will prompt us to seek peace in our everyday encounters – and that that will translate into ways of solving problems at national level that don’t lead us into war.